Thursday, November 23, 2017

E. Washington tops Stanford 67-61 to end Pac-12 drought

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STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Eastern Washington was winless against teams from the Pac-12 Conference for nearly 15 years. First-year Eagles coach Shantay Legans never had beaten Stanford at Maples Pavilion.

Both droughts ended Tuesday night as Eastern Washington climbed out of an early hole and led most of the way to claim a 67-61 victory over the Cardinal.

Bogdan Bliznyuk, a senior guard from the Ukraine, scored 23 points to lead the Eagles (2-1), who made 11 of 25 shots from the 3-point arc.

The Eagles snapped a 21-game losing streak against Pac-12 schools, dating to a 62-58 win over Washington on Dec. 14, 2002. Legans spent three seasons as a player at Stanford's rival Cal but never got a victory on the Cardinal's floor.

"We believed we could win this game," Legans said. "We have veteran guys. It's a big win for our program because it's against a Pac-12 team. It's been a long time."

Eastern Washington was down 9-2 early but never trailed over the game's final 29 minutes, despite missing six free throws down the stretch.

Bliznyuk, who scored 45 points in a game last season, converted four foul shots in the final 11 seconds to ice the win.

"He's a big-time player," Stanford coach Jerod Haase said. "I thought our length would bother him but he was able to get in there and do pretty much what he wanted."

Legans called Bliznyuk one of the better players in the country, adding, "People don't see him because he's at a small school."

Reid Travis scored 20 points to lead the Cardinal (2-1), which started three freshmen and shot 34 percent from the field, including 2 for 16 on 3-pointers.

"We're not where we need to be," Haase said. "There's tremendous room for growth. We have such a long way to go and we're not covering that gap as quickly as we can."

Freshman forward Oscar Da Silva had 11 points and 17 rebounds in his first start.

Stanford played without three injured players, starting guard Dorian Pickens and reserves Marcus Sheffield and Kodye Pugh.

BIG PICTURE

Eastern Washington: This was the second of 10 straight games away from home for the Eagles, who debuted with a home victory over NAIA foe Walla Walla but won't play again in Cheney, Washington, until Dec. 17 against Cal State Northridge.

Stanford: The schedule gets much tougher for the Cardinal real soon. Stanford hosts No. 9 North Carolina on Monday, then faces No. 8 Florida three days later in the opening round of the PK80 Invitational at Portland, Oregon. The Cardinal will take on No. 4 Kansas in Sacramento on Dec. 21.

SPECIAL DEFENSE: Asked how the Eagles prepared to stop Cardinal star forward Travis, Legans said, "We prayed last night as a team . just kidding! We had bodies around him at all times, we didn't let him go one-on-one."

LEARNING EXPERIENCE: Cardinal freshman point guard Daejon Davis shot 0 for 5 from the field and had two points to go with four turnovers. "There's no doubt in my mind he'll bounce back quickly," Haase said.

Stanford started three freshman for the first time since Jan. 27, 1983.

WAITING GAME: Haase said he has no timetable for the return of Pickens (left foot), Sheffield (left foot) and Pugh (right ankle). "We need to heal fast, but I don't know right now," he said.

UP NEXT

Eastern Washington plays Friday at UNLV.

Stanford plays Friday against Northeastern, the fourth of a five-game stretch over 11 days to open the season.

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